Loreta’s Civil War: Ruffianly white men

Velazquez encounters a Mormon community, makes new friends, and marries again as she looks ahead to a new life.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 66: Velazquez encounters a Mormon community, makes new friends, and marries again as she looks ahead to a new life.

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After breakfast that morning, I inquired for the superintendent and road agent, Mr. Rube Thomas, but learned that he was not in the town. I then asked for Mr. J. Stewart, another road agent, and a very affable, obliging gentleman. This gentleman was, fortunately for me, in Cheyenne, and he waited on me very promptly when he received my message and expressed himself as willing to do anything in his power to assist me.

I desired to go to Camp Davy Russell, and Mr. Stewart, in the kindest manner, said that he would procure a conveyance and drive me there himself. He did so, and during our drive he took a great deal of pains to point out the features of interest and to explain a number of useful points about the country, its people, and its prospects. On reaching the camp, I presented to Gen. Stephenson a letter of introduction from Gen. Harney and was very kindly received by him. After a conference with Gen. Stephenson, I returned to Cheyenne with Mr. Stewart but found that, in consequence of the crowded condition of the stage, I would have to remain until the next day.

Mr. Stewart, knowing how uncomfortable I was at the hotel, then offered to take me to Laporte and place me in rather better quarters. This kind offer I eagerly accepted, and soon found myself under the excellent care of Mrs. Taylor, the station-keeper’s wife, and her sister, who did all that was in their power to make me comfortable and to make the time pass agreeably. I passed several pleasant days with these hospitable ladies, employing my time in horseback riding, rambling over the mountains, gathering mossagates, and visiting the wigwams of the Indians.

The red men smiled on me in a rather disdainful sort of way and evidently regarded me as an enemy. I wished most sincerely that I understood their language, if only for the purpose of explaining my friendly feelings towards them. I had much more respect for these savages than I had for the ruffianly white men who were dispossessing them of their country. In one camp I did find an old woman who spoke English quite well and had a long conversation with her. She said that vice was almost unknown among her people before the white men came, but that they corrupted the young girls and supplied the men with whiskey until now there was getting to be fewer and fewer good Indians every day.

The coaches at each trip continued to be so crowded that it was impossible for me to get a place in one, and, as I was anxious to proceed, the agent at length arranged to put on an extra for the accommodation of myself and several other travelers who also were waiting somewhat impatiently. When I was about starting, Mr. Stewart gave me a letter of introduction to the Mormon proprietor of the Kimble House in Salt Lake City.

After a few days’ travel we came to Echo City at the entrance of Echo Canon, where we met with an accident, which might have had unpleasant consequences, but, as no lives were lost, we regarded it as rather an agreeable variation of the monotony of our journey.

A water spout in the mountains had flooded the road, and the driver, in attempting to force his way through a rather bad-looking place, managed to get the coach and the horses stuck fast in a quicksand. The passengers were obliged to swim out on the backs of the horses and escaped with no other damage than wet clothing. Fortunately, we were near the house of a Mormon, who received us very hospitably, and who, while his three wives were endeavoring to make us as comfortable as circumstances would permit, went and got two yoke of oxen and pulled the coach out.

I had heard so much against the Mormons that I was under the impression they were all thieves and cutthroats. I confess that I was most agreeably disappointed in them from this, my first acquaintance, to the time of my taking a final leave of Utah. The homes, farms, dress, and behavior all indicated that they were a hard-working, industrious people, while they appeared to be entirely free from many of the worst vices of the Gentiles.

While stopping at this house in Echo Canon, I ventured to make a few inquiries about their customs and beliefs, which were very politely answered, and I was in the midst of a very interesting conversation with one of the wives, a woman of about fifty-five, when I was interrupted by the driver calling upon me to get into the coach.

The rain having freshened the air somewhat, I asked the driver to permit me to sit with him outside as we went through the canyon in order that I might see the scenery. He consented and assisted me to a seat on the box, and as we passed through the canyon, he explained the points of interest to me. He was quite a handsome young fellow and very intelligent.

On entering the Bear River Valley, my eye met on all sides little white cottages or neat log houses, surrounded by well-cultivated and well-watered farms and orchards where not many years before was but a burning plain, covered with sage bushes, and the home of the Ute Indian, the buffalo, the elk, the antelope, the coyote, and the silver gray fox. Through the untiring industry and good management of people who had been driven from their homes in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, this desert had been transformed into the paradise I beheld. The Mormons fled here to escape persecution, desiring only to get as far away from their enemies as possible, and after many years of toil and hardship they achieved results of which they had a right to be proud, and which entitled them to a more kindly consideration than had been accorded them when residing in the States.

Having passed the Bear River Valley, we were soon in the great metropolis of Mormondom, and driving through wide streets and avenues, past houses that were evidently the abodes of thrifty well-to-do people, the coach at length drew up before the door of the Kimble House.

The proprietor came out and ushered us up stairs to the parlor, a large, airy room, plainly but comfortably furnished, and soon a little girl came and said that she would show me my room. The furniture in this was somewhat primitive in its style, but everything was neat and clean, and the accommodations, if not exactly such as the Fifth Avenue Hotel offers, were all that any reasonable person had a right to expect.

So soon as I was fairly settled in the hotel, I presented the proprietor the letter of introduction from the road agent at Cheyenne and had quite a long conversation with him. He gave me much good advice about my future movements and seemed disposed, in every way, to be as kind and obliging as he could. From him I learned that there were a number of old Confederate soldiers in the city and vicinity but as I was anxious to get to the El Dorado, where I expected to make my fortune, with as little delay as possible, I made no attempt to find any of them.

After taking a rest for a day or two in Salt Lake City, I again started on my journey westward. At Ruby Valley in Nevada I met a gentleman who was engaged in mining operations, and he advised me strongly to go to the Reese River gold regions. I was not greatly prepossessed with him, and yet he was certainly a man of intelligence and cultivation, and, as what he told me only served to confirm what I had heard from other persons, I concluded to take his advice. On arriving at Austin, a new city in the mountains near the Reese River, I accordingly left the stage and took lodgings at the Exchange Hotel, which was kept by a Slavonian by the name of Mouinely.

The sleeping apartment assigned me at Austin was not the most agreeable, being next to a room occupied by some drunken fellows who kept up a terrible noise nearly all night, and as I thought that most likely I would have to put up with this sort of thing nearly all the time I remained in the hotel, I determined for lodgings elsewhere. A gentleman to whom I spoke about the matter said that he knew of a private house where rooms were sometimes to be had and offered to go and see if I could obtain accommodation there.

While he was gone, the chambermaid brought from the room next to mine two pairs of pistols, two large knives, and a razor and informed me that their owner was a noted desperado, called Irish Tom, and that he had killed two men.

I had some curiosity to see this individual, but did not care particularly to make his acquaintance. My curiosity was soon gratified, for he came to the parlor inquiring for his weapons. Instead of being angry with the chambermaid for having taken them from his room to show them to me, he seemed to feel rather complimented that I should feel an interest in them and him. He was a tall, good-looking Irishman with a very pleasant face and had as little of the ruffian in his appearance as any man I had met on the frontier. I was informed that he never attempted to hurt well-behaved people, and that he often submitted to the grossest kind of insults from some of his intimates. Men of his acquaintance had been known to slap him in the face, and he would take no notice but walk away as if nothing had happened. With others, however, he would have no mercy but would produce a pistol or knife at the slightest provocation.

Tom was rather noted for his polite bearing towards the ladies, which I considered as an evidence that he was not as bad, by any means, as he might have been. My friend who had gone to look for lodgings for me returned and said that he had secured me a very good room. I accordingly left the hotel and had reason to congratulate myself in my change of quarters. My landlady was a Pennsylvanian and was disposed to do all in her power to make me comfortable and to assist me in carrying out the object I had in view in taking up my residence in Austin. She introduced me to a restaurant-keeper, who agreed to supply me with my meals, and also to a number of the prominent people of the place — the judge, the doctor, the Methodist minister, and others.

The aristocracy of Austin was made up of an odd lot of people, who, however, had the best possible opinion of themselves, even if they did use bad grammar, swear hard, and drink unlimited quantities of whiskey. I, however, always had a happy faculty of adapting myself to circumstances, and I was soon on excellent terms with most of my new acquaintances.

Among my friends was an individual of about sixty years of age, who, from his conversation, seemed to have been at one time accustomed to mingle in really good society. He was a widower and was extensively engaged in mining operations. I had not known him more than a couple of days before he asked me to marry him and offered to give me an interest in his mines if I would accept him. I thought that this was a rather abrupt style of courtship and felt constrained to decline. He took my refusal good-naturedly enough and was evidently not sufficiently in love with me to break his heart because he could not get me.

Subsequently I met a gentleman who paid me attention and to whom I became sincerely attached. We were married in a very quiet manner, for neither of us desired any more than we could help to be made the subjects of the gossip of a mining town.

Loreta’s Civil War: A derangement of the plans

As news of President Lincoln’s assassination spreads, Velazquez is torn between respect for the man and loyalty to the Confederacy.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 53: As news of President Lincoln’s assassination spreads, Velazquez is torn between respect for the man and loyalty to the Confederacy.

******

As I did not know and certainly did not appreciate the full extent … of the great disaster that had befallen the Confederate cause, so soon as my business in Wall Street was brought to a conclusion I sought a conference with the agents with whom I had been co-operating. They were inclined to take the gloomiest possible view of the situation. With the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee’s army, the people of the North seemed to have concluded that the long contest with the South was over. … It was but natural, perhaps, in view of the intense excitement which prevailed and the unanimity of public opinion that the Confederate agents should have regarded the future of the contest in a great degree from a Northern standpoint and should have been largely influenced by the opinions which they heard expressed on every side.

I, however, was not disposed to give up while a Southern soldier remained in the field, and, after a full discussion of the condition of affairs, I persuaded my companions to view matters as I did. Richmond was our capital, but it was not the whole South, and Lee’s army, important as it was, was far from being the whole Confederate force. Gen. Joe Johnston had an army of veterans very nearly if not quite as large as that of Lee’s and was capable of prolonging the contest for an indefinite period while throughout the West there were a number of detached commands of more or less strength. If these could be united and a junction effected with Johnston, or communication established with him so that they could act in concert, it would be possible to keep the Federals at bay for a good while yet. If the fight was continued resolutely, there was no knowing what might happen to our advantage, for, as we all knew, the people of the North were heartily sick of the war, while England and France were impatient to have it come to an end and would much prefer to have it end with a victory for the Confederates.

Having professed an eager desire to work for the Cause so long as there was a Cause to work for, my associates suggested that I should proceed immediately to Missouri … for the purpose of consulting with the agents in the West with regard to the best methods of proceeding in the present perplexing emergency.

I accepted the mission without hesitation, and, always ready to attend to business of this kind at a moment’s notice, with scarcely more than a change of clothing in my traveling satchel, I was soon speeding westward. … I went to Columbus, Ohio, where I found considerable confusion prevailing on account of the escape of some prisoners. I took rooms at the Neil House and had conferences with several persons concerning the affairs at the South. At an unusually early hour I retired, being very weary on account of having traveled almost without interruption for several days and having lost my sleep the night before but feeling rather happy on account of a Confederate victory of which I had heard.

I was soon asleep, but could not have been so very long before I was awakened by the continual buzzing of the telegraph wires, which were attached to the corner of the hotel. I paid but little attention to this singular noise and dozed off again. A second time I was awakened by it and began to conjecture what could be the matter. I knew that something very important must have happened and thought that the Federals must either have achieved a great victory or have met with a great defeat. I was too tired, however, to attempt any inquiry just then, and, with all sorts of fancies floating in my mind … I dropped off into a sound sleep and did not awaken until morning.

I arose quite early and going to the window saw that the whole front of the building was draped in mourning. Wondering what this demonstration could mean, and thinking that the death of some prominent general must have occurred, but never for a moment suspecting the terrible truth, I made my toilet and descended to find out what was the matter.

A great number of people, notwithstanding the early hour, were moving about the hotel, and a considerable crowd was already assembled in the hall. Still wondering what could have happened, I asked a gentleman whom I met hurrying down stairs what was the news, and he told me that President Lincoln had been assassinated by one J. Wilkes Booth the night before!

This intelligence startled me greatly, both on account of the terrible nature of the crime itself and because I felt that it could work nothing but harm to the South. I also felt for Mr. Lincoln and his family, for I liked him and believed that he was an honest and kindhearted man who tried to do his duty, as he understood it, and who was in every way well disposed towards the South.

Descending to the drawing-room, I found a large number of ladies there, many of whom were weeping, while, in the street, the crowd was increasing, and everyone seemed to be in the greatest excitement. Across the street, the State House was being draped in mourning, while a number of persons already wore mourning emblems. Before the day was over nearly everyone had on some badge of mourning, and nearly every house was draped in a greater or less degree in black. I did not attempt to imitate my neighbors in this matter. I was sincerely sorry both for personal and political reasons that this dreadful event had occurred but, nevertheless, Mr. Lincoln was the enemy of the cause I loved and for which I labored, and it would have been intensely repugnant to my feelings to have made any outward manifestations of mourning. At the same time it is possible I may have mourned in my heart with more sincerity than some of those who were making a greater show of their grief.

This sad event rendered it necessary that I should have an immediate conference with my associates in the East, and I therefore returned as fast as I could to New York, and from thence went on to Washington.

The assassination of Mr. Lincoln had caused a derangement of the plans, and no one knew exactly what had best be done next. I was requested, however, to make a trip west again for the purpose of communicating with certain parties and accordingly departed on my last errand in behalf of the Confederacy.

My business being transacted, I started to return and again found it necessary to pass through Columbus. When I arrived there the body of Mr. Lincoln was lying in state. The town was crowded with people, and it was impossible to get a room at any of the hotels. I went to the Neil House but was obliged to content myself with a bed on the drawing-room floor, my accommodations being, however, quite as sumptuous as those of hundreds of others.

I doubt if the little city ever had so many people in it before, and all day long a stream of men and women poured in at one door and out at the other of the apartment where the casket containing the remains of the president was lying in state. It was a sad sight, and it troubled me greatly — so greatly that I was scarcely able to eat or sleep, for, in addition to my natural grief, I could not prevent my mind from brooding on the possibly detrimental effects which the assassination would have on the fortunes of the South.

After an early breakfast the next morning, I took the eastward-bound train and returned to Washington, and on reaching that city called to see Col. Baker. We exchanged but a few words, as Baker said that he had an engagement, which he would be compelled to attend to immediately, but he would see me at half past seven o’clock at my hotel. …

In the Capitol, I met a Confederate officer whom I knew. I was astonished to see him, and going up, I said, “Oh, what could have induced you to come here at such a critical time as this?”

“To see and hear what is going on,” he replied.

“This is an awful affair.”

“Yes, and it is particularly unfortunate that it should have happened at this particular time.”

“When will you return?”

“Tonight, if somebody less amiable than you are does not recognize me and take me in charge.”

I then asked him if he would carry a letter through for me to my brother, and on his promising me that he would, I made an engagement for him to go to my room in the hotel. He would find the door unlocked and the key inside, and I would meet him at five o’clock or shortly after. I then took leave of him, bidding him be careful of himself, as the people were excited and suspicious and he might easily get himself into serious trouble.

Returning to the hotel, I noticed quite a number of ladies in the drawing-room as I passed by. I thought I would join them for the sake of listening to the different conversations that were going on, thinking that perhaps I might hear something that it would be advantageous for me to know. On reaching my room, therefore, I dressed myself in a handsome black gros-grain silk dress, and putting a gilt band in my hair, descended and took a seat at one of the drawing-room windows facing on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Those around me all appeared to be discussing the tragedy and many absurd theories and speculations were indulged in with regard to it. I was indignant … to hear President Davis and [other] Confederate leaders accused of being the instigators of the crime. I well knew that they were incapable of anything of the kind, and Mr. Davis, in particular, I had reason to believe entertained a high respect for Mr. Lincoln and most sincerely lamented his death and especially the manner of it, feeling that he and the whole people of the South would be … held censurable for something they had nothing to do with and which they were powerless to prevent.

Loreta’s Civil War: Blow them out of the water

Plans form and plans fall apart, but Velazquez remains focused on her overall strategy to assist the Confederacy from her vantage point far from the war’s front lines.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 44: Plans form and plans fall apart, but Velazquez remains focused on her overall strategy to assist the Confederacy from her vantage point far from the war’s front lines.

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As we were crossing to the town, the lieutenant again proposed that we should take a drive that afternoon. I, however, excused myself and gave him to understand that I had engagements which would prevent me from meeting him again. The young man, therefore, to my infinite relief — for his attentions were beginning to be troublesome — stated that he would return to Cincinnati by the first train, and, when I parted from him in the hotel, I sincerely hoped that he would do so for I did not wish to have him watching my movements.

I now wrote a letter to Col. Baker, in which I stated that the man I was looking for was not at Johnson’s Island and that I thought I would go on to Indianapolis and visit the prison camp there. After I had dined, not seeing the lieutenant, I inquired for him and was told that he had gone. Being, therefore, in no danger of meeting him again, I went to the telegraph office and sent dispatches to the Detroit and Buffalo agents to notify them that I had visited the prison and executed my commission there, and one to St. Louis, in accordance with the instructions under which I was acting, for the agent there to send certain parties to meet me at Indianapolis.

The next morning I was off for Indianapolis to continue the search I had begun in Sandusky, although I desired very much to remain in the last named city for the purpose of watching the progress of events, and, perhaps, of taking part in any fighting that might occur. I very well knew that by acting as a spy and as a bearer of dispatches I was performing much more valuable service than I would as a soldier, and yet, at the prospect of a battle, all my fighting blood was up, and I could scarcely restrain my desire to be an active participant in the great and exciting scenes I thought were about to take place.

I afterwards wished that I had remained, for I felt confident that had I been in Sandusky when the appointed time for striking the blow came and had been entrusted with the direction of affairs, there would have been no such miserable fizzle as actually did occur.

The general plan, as the reader has already been told, was to organize a raid along the lake shores, to release the prisoners, to gather about us all the Southern sympathizers who could be induced to join us, and to make such a diversion in the Federal rear as would compel the withdrawal of a large force from the front. We also placed great reliance on the effects of the panic which, it was hoped, would be created, and also on British intervention, which it was expected would be brought about by a border war, in which it would be impossible to prevent trespass upon British territory.

In addition to this, the Indians were to be stirred up to acts of hostility all along the frontier, from the lakes to the gulf.

The prisoners, as they effected their escape, were to act according to circumstances. Those at Sandusky and at places nearest to that point were to unite with the outsiders, and form an army to operate along the lake shores and as far into the adjacent country as they could penetrate, while others were to endeavor to effect a junction with Price and Quantrill in Missouri and to march under their orders.

The execution of this scheme was to begin at a certain time, after the prisoners had been made acquainted with such details of the general plan as were necessary to be known by them, by the capture of the Federal gunboat Michigan, and of such other steamers as the Confederates could overpower by stratagem or force. This being done, the prisoners on Johnson’s Island were to be notified by a prearranged signal and were to make a break and overpower their guards, with the assistance of the boats. The prisoners once free, the organization of both military and naval forces was to be proceeded with as rapidly as possible and all the damage done to the enemy that could be done with the means at hand.

In pursuance of this plan, the Confederates in Canada seized the lake steamers Indian Queen and Parsons, and started for Sandusky. On arriving off that place, however, their signals were unanswered, and after waiting as long as they dared they were forced to the conclusion that something unexpected had occurred to interfere with the success of the plans and had no recourse but to make their escape as rapidly as they could, well knowing that the Michigan, if she ever got her guns to bear on them, would blow them out of the water in very short order.

The scheme fell through, not because the party from Canada did not keep their engagement or were not willing and anxious to do all that they had the power to do, but because one of the men who went to Sandusky for the purpose of seizing the Michigan turned traitor. I may, perhaps, be doing this person an injustice in applying this harsh name to him but if he was not a willful traitor, he was a fool and too weak and cowardly to have been entrusted with such responsible and weighty duties as he was.

Arrangements had been made to secure the attendance of all, or nearly all, the officers of the Michigan at an entertainment, and during their absence the vessel was to have been seized. Before this entertainment could come off, however, the man to whom I have alluded was either recognized as a Confederate, or else he made some drunken utterances that excited suspicion. At all events, he was arrested, and on a search being made, papers were found in his possession which gave the Federal government full information with regard to the plot and enabled them to take means to meet it. All this might have happened, and yet no one been seriously to blame but this man, on the papers being found on him, confessed everything, and revealed, not merely the particulars of the scheme but who his associates were.

He should have permitted himself to have been torn limb from limb before doing this, as I would have done, had I been captured, sooner than I would have revealed anything to the enemy.

The failure of this raid caused much disappointment at the South, and the Confederates in Canada, by whom it had been planned and to whom its execution was entrusted were greatly censured and were accused both of treachery and lack of courage. These censures and accusations were unjust for they did all they could do, and if they were to blame for anything, it was in confiding in a person or persons who were unworthy of confidence.

The excitement which the capture of the Sandusky party and the discovery of what it was that they and the Confederates proposed to do caused at the North showed how great would have been the panic that the successful execution of the scheme would have caused. I cannot express the disgust and indignation I felt when I heard that the plot had failed, and how it failed, and it was on this account, as much as anything else, that I left the country for a time and refused to have anything more to do with my late associates and their schemes, although I was still intent upon doing all I could to advance the interests of the Confederacy.

On my arrival at Indianapolis, I found two men from St. Louis awaiting me, they having been sent there in compliance with my telegraphic dispatch from Sandusky. I had a long talk with them about the condition of affairs and delivered the dispatches I had for them. One of them — a tall Missourian — was to go to the borders, to operate with the Indians, and the other was to report to Quantrill on some business of a secret nature. I had no idea what the dispatch which I handed to this second man was about, and, as he did not seem disposed to tell me, I did not ask him.

In compliance with my orders, I was now to wait in Indianapolis until I should receive directions to proceed elsewhere and was to occupy my time in obtaining access to the prison camp for the purpose of conversing with the prisoners, informing them of the movements that were in progress and encouraging them to make an effort to escape, as no rescue could be attempted in their case.

Exactly how to get into the prison enclosure was something of a problem, as, for a number of good and sufficient reasons, I was desirous of doing this without figuring as Col. Baker’s agent, as I had done at Sandusky. Where there is a will there is a way, nearly always, and I speedily found a very easy way to accomplish my object.

Walking out towards the prison camp, the day after my arrival, I determined to try and get in on some plea or other, and only to fall back on Baker’s letter as a last resource when all other means failed. Not very far from the enclosure I met a cake-woman, who, I surmised, was permitted to go among the prisoners for the purpose of trading with them. It occurred to me that with a little management, I could obtain admission along with her, so, going up to her, I purchased a few cakes, and said, “Why, do you go into the prison, among those dirty rebels?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied, “I go in there to sell them cakes.”

“I did not know that they let anyone in.”

“Yes, the officers all know me, and the sergeant always looks through my basket to see that I haven’t anything contraband.”

“I would like mighty well to go in there and see how the rebels look. Do you think they would let me in with you?”

“Yes, you come along with me. I’ll get you in.”

When we came to the gate, therefore, and while the sergeant was examining her basket, the old woman said, “Sergeant, this is my sister. She came with me to see how the rebels look — she never saw one.”

The sergeant laughed and passed us both in without further parley. The cake-woman went into the quarters, where she soon had a crowd of men round her, investing their cash — and precious little of it they had — in the contents of her basket. Looking around me, I spied a major belonging to Lee’s army, whom I had met in Richmond but who had never seen me in female attire, and, going up to him, I had a hurried conversation with him in a low voice.

I told him that now was the time for the prisoners to make a break, if they wanted to gain their freedom, as there were no troops at hand worth speaking of. He wanted to know whether there was not danger of being re-taken.

I replied that I did not think there was if they made a bold dash and all worked together. I then told him what was being done elsewhere, and explaining as well as I could the general plan of operations that had been arranged, suggested that they should try and reach the southern part of the state, and, after crossing the river, report either to Price or Jeff Thompson. I then gave him some money and hurriedly left him to rejoin the old cake-woman, whose basket was by this time emptied and who was prepared to leave.

This duty having been satisfactorily performed, I wrote a letter to Col. Baker, informing him that the man I was looking for was not at the Indianapolis camp but that I had information which led me to think I would find him at Alton. I, therefore, proposed to go to that place, and if he was not there, I would give the whole thing up as a bad job and return East.

I had no intention of going to Alton, but being under obligation to remain for some time … in Indianapolis, I was desirous of employing myself to the best advantage. Exactly what to get at, however, was not an easy thing to determine. After considering the subject in all its aspects, I resolved to go to Gov. Morton for the purpose of asking him whether he could not give me some employment. My idea was that perhaps through the influence of the governor, I could obtain a clerkship or some position which would afford me facilities for gaining information.

I accordingly called on the governor, to whom I represented myself as a poor widow whose husband had been killed in the war and who had no means of support. Gov. Morton treated me kindly enough, although I speedily made up my mind that he was by no means as amiable and goodnatured an individual as my rather jolly friend, Gov. Brough of Ohio.

After hearing my story, he said that there was nothing he could do for me, but that it was very possible I might be able to obtain employment at the arsenal, as there were a good many women working there.

This, it struck me, was a most capital idea, and, therefore, asking the governor to give me some kind of a note or recommendation — which request he complied with by writing a few lines — I left him to see what I could do at the place where they were manufacturing munitions of war to be used against my Confederate friends.

I do not know whether it was the governor’s note that aided me or whether they were really in want of hands, but I was told that I could have work if I desired it. The ordnance officer — a German, whose name I have forgotten — said that I was to commence work on Tuesday, the day I applied to him being Saturday.

At the appointed time, I appeared at the arsenal and was sent into the packing-room, where I was instructed in the mystery of packing cartridges. There were about eighteen girls working in the same room, most of whom were rather light-headed things, interested in very nearly everything except the business they were paid for. A good part of their time was employed in writing, reading, and discussing love-letters, which they were interchanging with the soldiers in the field, and a number of them had a good many more than one correspondent.

The society of these girls was no pleasure to me whatever, especially as I had things of much more importance to think of than their love affairs. Immediately on Gov. Morton suggesting that, perhaps, I could obtain employment at the arsenal, the idea of blowing up that establishment entered my mind. After going to work, I looked about me to see how this could be done and very soon perceived that the thing was possible and without much risk to myself, provided I took proper precautions.

I found, however, that I would not be able to blow up the arsenal without destroying a number of lives, and I shrank from doing this. It was a great temptation to me, however, especially when I reflected that I was really in the Confederate service and that it was a part of my duty to do everything in my power to injure the enemy. I could not, however, get it out of my head that there was a wide difference between killing people in a fair fight and slaughtering them in this fashion, and so, to get myself out of the way of a temptation that was constantly growing stronger and stronger, I suddenly left, after having been at work about two weeks.